Was the Original Female Lead on Seinfeld Replaced For Not Being ‘Sexy’ Enough?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: The original female lead on “Seinfeld” was replaced for not being sexy enough.

Television pilots can be fascinating to explore in greater detail. There is so much attention paid to just this one single episode (as the pilot typically determines whether the network wants to pick the television show up as an ongoing series) that the levels of micro-management on the pilot can go to extreme lengths. This is particularly evident when it comes to the cast of the series, as the pilot is often the first time that people are seeing the actors interacting on a finished product. Thus, very often actors are added or removed after the pilot. In one memorable instance, an actor was digitally added to the pilot of a hit TV series after the pilot had been finished but before it even aired! More often, though, pilots are where producers determine that certain characters don’t work and they get replaced on future episodes. That was the case in the original pilot for the “Big Bang Theory,” where there was an entirely different female lead at first. That was also the case in the original pilot for the hit TV series, “Seinfeld,” where the female lead on the series went in a dramatically different direction after the pilot.

Why did Lee Garlington get replaced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the female lead on “Seinfeld” after just one episode? There are a number of conflicting stories out there, including one that said that it was because the character needed to be “sexier.” What’s the truth? Read on to find out!
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Was a Character on Seinfeld Named After a Smallville Producer?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: A character on Seinfeld was named after a Producer of Smallville.

Reader Taylor wrote in to ask:

For years I’ve seen the name “Joe Davola” as a producer on Smallville. There was also a character on Seinfeld (And we know how Jerry loves Superman) named “Crazy” Joe Davola. He wants to kill most of the gang, and goes nuts over Elaine, even dressing up as a clown in a creepy performance of “I Pagliacci.”

Any chance any aspect of the Seinfeld character was based on the real guy?

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Did Larry David Base the Famous “George Quits His Job and Then Pretends He Didn’t” Seinfeld Episode on Something That Happened to Him at SNL?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Larry David based the “George quitting his job and then coming back to work on Monday pretending not to have quit” on a real life experience he had while working at Saturday Night Live.

When he was working on Sienfeld, Larry David would often contribute plot ideas based on real incidents in his life.

One of the more bizarre incidents was the basis for the second season episode, “The Revenge,” where George (played by Jason Alexander) quits his job on Friday, only to realize that he has no other job prospects, so he decides to come back to work on Monday and pretend like nothing happened.

Larry David amazingly enough actually did that same trick…when he was working at Saturday Night Live!
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Did Larry David Have Scenes From Early Episodes of Seinfeld Re-Shot to Add Jerry Stiller to Them?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Larry David had scenes from an earlier episode of Seinfeld re-shot so that Jerry Stiller could play the role of Frank Costanza in all of the Frank Costanza appearances.

Over the first few seasons of Seinfeld, viewers got to know the eccentricities of Jason Alexander’s George Costanza…

But we didn’t know where he came from – he talked about his parents but we never saw them. Not until May of 1993, at the end of the Fourth Season of Seinfeld, in the episode “The Handicapped Spot.”

In the episode, George borrows his father’s car but parks in a handicapped spot and, well, hilarity ensues…

In the episode, naturally, George’s father shows up (as well as his mother, played by Estelle Harris), played by…John Randolph?!?

Yep, the veteran character actor played George’s father in the episode.

In the next season, however, they decided to have George move home with his parents, meaning that Frank and Estelle Costanza would be showing up more frequently, and for whatever reason, they decided to recast Frank Costanza.

Enter Jerry Stiller.

He and Estelle Harris would go on to become major parts of the series for the rest of the run, and Stiller even got an Emmy nomination out of it.

Their first episode was in the second one of Season 5 – “The Puffy Shirt”…

That’s all normal enough so far – actors get re-cast all the time, after all.

Heck, a father of a main character had ALREADY been re-cast!

Jerry Seinfeld’s father on the show, Mort Seinfeld, was already portrayed by two actors.

First Philip Bruns…

then, for the rest of the series, Barney Martin…

However, that changeover happened early in the series, when two things were notable…

1. The show was not a big hit yet, so Larry David did not have as much freedom as he would have in later years and, more importantly,

2. The idea of syndication was more like a dream than a reality that you would plan for.

By the time Season 5 came around, though, things were different. The show was one of the biggest hits on TV, and syndication was clearly coming, so in 1995, David actually came up with a bold idea…
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